Reviews for Visconti House

Booklist Reviews 2011 February #1
Quiet Laura feels decidedly different from her classmates. Though an outsider herself, she initially lacks the courage to be seen with newcomer Leon, who lives near her home (known officially as the Visconti House and unofficially as the haunted house). Vacant before her parents bought it with plans to restore its faded grandeur someday, the shabby mansion begins to give up its many secrets when Laura and Leon join forces to explore the place and research its history. Convincing dialogue and well-drawn characters, both major and minor, bring energy to the story, which focuses on Laura, her slowly developing friendship with Leon, and the changes brought about by the experiences they share. The house's history tinges the quiet story with faded romance and sadness, but that tone is counterbalanced by the increasing vividness and confidence of Laura's character. A fine, sensitive first novel by an Australian writer. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Laura's artist parents move to a crumbling mansion (reputed to be haunted) in the Australian countryside. Laura and her new friend, Leon, work together to uncover the sad love story of the house's original owner while their own relationship slowly blossoms. Sentimental without being saccharine, this elegant narrative will resonate with romance-minded readers. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 January #1

Whether it's because she would rather write stories alone than hang out with her gossiping classmates or because she lives in the Visconti House, a crumbling Italianate villa (which, everyone assumes, must be haunted), Year 8 Aussie Laura Horton always feels like an outsider. When Leon Murphy, a loner in his own right, moves in with his odd grandmother, Laura notices that they have more in common than she originally thought, including wanting to solve the mystery behind Mr. Visconti, his once-ornate house and the woman he loved. Debut author Edgar's quiet, old-fashioned storytelling, in which the children can sound older than their years, celebrates curiosity, hidden treasures and impromptu gatherings with spirited and creative family members. In the process of ferreting out the secrets of Mr. Visconti and his formerly splendid estate (with written letters, interviews and intuition rather than the Internet), Laura also discovers friendship, romance and accepting the differences in herself and others. Fans of Blue Balliett and Elise Broach's Shakespeare's Secret (2005) will enjoy another puzzle to solve. (author's note) (Mystery. 9-12)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Edgar's debut is a captivating story of friendship, mystery, and romance set in her native Australia. Laura feels like an outsider in her new town. Her parents are odd, her hair is odd, her hobbies are odd, and even though she lives in an old rundown mansion--which she loves--it's certainly not like other people's houses. What she really wants is to be normal, and that doesn't include hanging out with the weird new boy, Leon. But her curiosity is sparked when his grandmother mentions that she used to see lonely old Mr. Visconti on his walks, and Laura accepts Leon's help with her self-assigned project to learn more about the builder of her house. As they uncover clues and unravel the details of Visconti's tragic romance, Laura realizes that the more she spends time with Leon, the more she misses him when he's not around. In Edgar's hands Laura's house almost lives and breathes as Visconti's life is revealed; her evocative writing and inviting characters will draw readers in to this gentle examination of acceptance, diversity, and self-esteem. Ages 9-up. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 February

Gr 5-8--Two lonely grade-eight kids in rural Australia develop a friendship as they work together to unlock a mystery. Laura feels like an outcast because of her family's artist lifestyle, her curly hair and bushy eyebrows, and the decaying mansion she calls home. Leon, newer to the area, is ostracized for living with his grandmother, the rumors that circulate about his father being in prison, and his shabby appearance. The friendship between the two progresses slowly because Laura, desperate to fit in, is embarrassed to be seen with Leon. As they work together to uncover the history of Laura's house and Mr. Visconti--its original owner--and his tragic love story, Laura learns to understand the value of friendship. Part realistic fiction, part mystery, and part romance, Edgar's first novel is a good blend of simple prose and descriptive imagery and language, and the story behind Mr. Visconti and the house offers some interesting twists. Readers will identify with Laura's desire to fit in and root for the friendship that develops between the two characters.--Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ

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VOYA Reviews 2011 April
After Laura Horton's freelance journalist father and artist mother move to a small Australian town, her life is miserable. All she wants to do is continue drawing for her planned book of fairies. She knows she is different no matter how hard she tries to fit in with the other eighth graders. From her artsy parents and lack of money to the large but rundown Victorian mansion they live in, nothing jerks her out of her despair until newcomer, Leon, arrives to live with his grandmother, their neighbor. Both endure bullying in school, especially Leon, but they find a common interest in researching the original owner of Laura's house, Mr. Visconti. To help find answers, they dig through searches of the house and articles from the library, and interview a few now-elderly people who met or knew Mr. Visconti. Their joint effort to solve the mystery of why he moved to Australia and why he built such a beautiful mansion takes them beyond their troubles and brings them closer together as friends. Readers later learn that Mr. Visconti built the house pre-1900, after emigrating from Italy to pursue the love of his life. Descriptions of the house are evocative of Italy and old-time grandeur. The house becomes one of the characters, with its discoveries revealed as Laura and Leon dig deeper and come closer to knowing the complete story. This well-written book explores many issues that would make for good discussion: bullying, coping with being different (both in the current and the historical plot), and the meanings of friendship.--Jane Van Wiemokly 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.